With all the confusion surrounding the messy transition to private curbside trash and recycling collection, Town Administrator Jay McGrail and the selectmen felt there was no better way to address residents’ concerns than to host a public forum on August 14 and answer all the questions people still had.
Waste Management representative Heather Louro joined McGrail to discuss the “hot button topic,” as McGrail put it, adding, “Thank you for your patience.”
While the changeover from town-run trash pickup to private pickup has been “rocky,” McGrail urged people to remain patient. “This is a complicated transition …”
This transition to automated trash and recycling pickup utilizing 65- and 95-gallon trash and recycle bins and the latest trash truck technology, however, was inevitable, even if Town Meeting and ballot voters didn’t elect to adopt the privatized trash service. Eventually, the town would have needed to buy a new trash truck to replace the old, outdated, and consistently breaking down truck in order to clean up waste pickup and make it more efficient.
“This wasn’t a decision that we made in a vacuum,” McGrail said. “The trash world in Marion was going to change, regardless. … The future of solid waste is the automated collection system.”
Residents were given the basic information during a presentation that night, which will be followed by an extensive guide to trash and recycling service that Waste Management will mail to each of the 2,006 pickup locations in Marion.
First and foremost, the trash pickup schedule will remain the same, despite some setbacks during the first two weeks with some routes remaining unfinished until the next day. If your trash was collected on Monday, it will still be collected on Monday.
“No route changes. Anything that’s happened out of the ordinary to you at your house over the last three weeks has been due to the transition and is not a change in the way that we’re managing it,” McGrail said. “If your house got missed, it was because it was a mistake. … It’s not because we switched from a Monday to a Tuesday.”
Recycling will be picked up every other Wednesday as it has been – and only on Wednesday, McGrail emphasized – split into two routes: “green” week and “gold” week. Those whose trash is collected on Monday will fall under the green recycling week schedule, while those whose trash is collected on Tuesday and Friday will fall into the gold recycling week.
The switch to the automated trash truck service will start on September 3, but Waste Management will begin delivering the trash and recycling carts on August 26 and continue throughout that week. Residents do not have to be home when the carts are dropped off. Workers will scan the barcode of your carts, linking them to your address and your address only.
If any residents do not receive their green trash carts and blue recycling carts by Saturday, August 31, McGrail urges them to contact him at Town Hall.
Some residents, though, are concerned about not having enough room in their carts for their waste, so they are free to purchase an additional cart, blue trash or green recycling, for a one-time charge of $100. In addition, however, that residence must purchase a $160 sticker from the Department of Public Works annually to cover the cost of the additional load.
The biggest concern for Waste Management, said Louro, is Marion residents’ recycling habits. Items that are accepted for recycling will be listed in the mailing, as will many of the unacceptable items that continue to contaminate recycling loads, causing delays in processing and increased charges to the town. And if you aren’t sure about an item, the old adage still stands: “When in doubt, throw it out,” said Louro. “The better job that you do, the more rewards to you.
“It’s extra important these days to keep [recycling] as clean and as good as possible,” she added.
Residents concerned about having excessive trash or recycling one week were urged to utilize the Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District transfer station on Benson Brook Road to drop off extra loads.
There were also resident concerns about the longevity of the carts, their accessibility by “critters,” how heavy they are, and whether the wind is going to blow them over. The carts, made of 100-percent recycled materials, are under warranty for 10 years, and to minimize critter access, Waste Management suggests keeping carts in the garage and/or at least washing them out with a hose a few times a year to eliminate odors that can attract critters. As for the weight of lugging the carts to the curb, the carts weigh roughly 30 pounds and can hold about 40-45 pounds of waste. But they tilt back onto wheels, making them easier to push or pull. Simply “nudge and tilt.”
Town Hall will, however, review any requests by elderly or disabled residents who otherwise cannot handle the carts down long driveways to the curb and will determine solutions on an individual situation based on hardship.
Carts should hold up with their lids remaining closed in up to 45-mile-per-hour wind, but gusts exceeding 55 MPH could blow the lid open or knock the carts down.
The town stated that should a cart be damaged by something outside of the resident’s control, the town will replace the cart free of charge. However, carts found to have been damaged as a result of negligence or with malicious intent will only be replaced for the $100-per-cart fee.
Aside from the new carts, residents should just continue to manage their trash as they have. Trash must still be placed in plastic bags and put into the green trash carts, and clean recyclables should continue to go into the blue bins without plastic bags.
Waste Management, as well as town officials, urge residents to give this transition time. Ultimately, the town is hopeful that trash pickup will be cleaner, efficient, and safe while providing for a more productive use of town employees that once spent hours each week struggling to get the trash and recycling done with a failing trash truck.
Until that informational mailing comes by the end of next week, here are some useful contacts in the meantime: DPW 508-748-3540; Waste Management 800-972-4545; Town Hall 508-748-3500.
By Jean Perry